A new spin on the sport drama

A groundbreaking on-line collection follows the careers of two younger Chinese language table tennis gamers, Xu Fan experiences.

On the age of 10, Cheng Hao’s life appeared set to observe a distinct path. Then, whereas finding out in fifth grade at a faculty in Mudanjiang, Heilongjiang province, Cheng confirmed potential as a basketball participant. Nevertheless, his sports activities dream was by no means actually realized as a result of a bodily situation.

Now as a movie director who shot to fame with the Chinese language on-line drama Evil Minds 2, Cheng is rejoicing on the probability to direct Ping Pong, an internet collection that focuses on two Chinese language athletes.

Since he acquired on board with the mission in 2018, Cheng and the crew ready lots for the manufacturing, starting from interviewing professionals to watching movies of main competitions, such because the 2008 Beijing Olympics and 2015 World Desk Tennis Championships in Suzhou, Jiangsu province.

The 44-episode drama, starring actors Bai Jingting and Xu Weizhou, was launched on the streaming platform iQiyi on March 9.

Beginning within the early 2000s and spanning greater than a decade, the story chronicles the event of two table tennis gamers-Xu Tan, an introverted teenager who inherits the love of table tennis from his grandfather, and Yu Kenan, an unruly prodigy who aspires to turn into a world champion.

The 2 gamers expertise ups and downs of their careers, and kind a relationship which evolves from that of opponents to shut mates who staff as much as compete on the World Desk Tennis Championships and the Olympic Video games.

“Desk tennis is a well-liked and revered sport in China, however few movies and tv dramas concerning the sport have been produced,” says Cheng.

“After interviewing dozens gamers, we realized that the years of robust coaching could be tedious and boring. Nevertheless, the gamers’ love of the game drove them to endure loneliness and survive fierce competitions. I used to be fairly touched by that spirit.”

A particular attribute of sports-themed tales in China is that they’ve a “bar” for the viewers, requiring viewers to have a fundamental grasp of the principles to make sure a extra immersive viewing expertise. The drama ends every episode with a two-minute animation elaborating on the principles or sports activities phrases featured on the present, such because the varieties of paddles and the importance of some particular coaching packages.

Liu Yi, a former Chinese language nationwide staff member, was invited to teach the actors for 3 months. Filming befell between November 2018 and Might 2019, for much longer than the time wanted to shoot an everyday on-line drama in China.

A serious hurdle within the manufacturing, nevertheless, was the scale of the table tennis ball, Cheng says.

“The ball is simply too small for normal cameras to get clear photographs. Additionally, the table tennis gamers transfer in a smaller house in contrast with basketball or soccer gamers. With few references in comparable movies or TV dramas, we needed to experiment with the digicam to ship compelling scenes,” Cheng provides.

To hint the motion of the ball, the crew rented two high-definition cameras able to taking pictures a most of three,000 frames per second. Normally, most feature-length movies and TV dramas are shot in 24 frames each second.

As well as, earlier than taking pictures the competitors scenes, the actors got some high-exertion workout routines, corresponding to operating in circles, to make their faces look pink and sweaty, offering a extra reasonable impact than make-up, Cheng says.

“To showcase tightened muscle mass in close-up photographs, we wanted to maintain doing workout routines till proper earlier than the taking pictures began,” says Xu Weizhou, who performs the function of Yu.

He says the drama marks his first time enjoying an expert athlete, and maybe additionally essentially the most “exhausting” of all his display work thus far.

Recalling that the present set a report for reshoots in his appearing profession, Xu Weizhou says he had to concentrate to particulars, corresponding to eye contact and footwork, whereas making certain an genuine normal of play.

“Desk tennis is our nationwide sport. Most of us have performed it rising up, however I imagine this drama will assist children perceive the spirit of the game extra deeply,” he says.


Xu Weizhou (left) and Bai Jingting play the lead roles in a brand new on-line collection, titled Ping Pong. The actors acquired three months of bodily coaching to organize for the shoot. CHINA DAILY



Ping Pong portrays the careers of two younger athletes who evolve from opponents into shut mates and teammates. CHINA DAILY